Vacation’s over, now what?

Spending a vacation with your family is a great way to make memories, but what about when the vacation ends?  How can you keep your family close the rest of the year?  As our kids get older, and they start becoming independent, how can we stay connected?  The answer is simple. . . Time.  Give your family part of your time every day.  Whether you work outside the home, or stay home with the kids, our time can slip away very quickly.  We need to make a conscious effort to spend good, quality time with our families EVERY DAY.  We do not know how long we will have together.  Accidents happen every day.  Who wants to live with regret from what they should have done?  We need to make the effort.  Just 20 minutes a day of one on one alone time, will mean the world to your child, or your spouse.  Play a game, just the two of you.  Read your child a book, snuggled up in a chair.  It can be very hard to do this while you have little ones in the house, but times like that make one on one time that much more meaningful.  Yes, you are exhausted, but 10 years from now, you won’t remember being exhausted, you will only remember spending time with your kids, or ignoring them.  You will either have fond memories, or the sinking feeling of regret.  Even with teens, you can find something to do with them.  Be creative.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  For example, my teen is studying Italian this year.  So I taught her how to shuffle cards properly (a lot of laughs ensued!) and then we played a modified version of an Italian game.  We didn’t have the proper deck of cards, but our American cards worked just fine and we had a blast.  Simple, little things can make a huge difference.  Bake together, build something together.  The point is to spend quality alone time with each member of your family.  Make them feel important and worth your time.  One more thing, and this is a HUGE one. . .  do not, under any circumstances have any electric devices with you when you are spending your time together.  Nothing sucks the joy out of special bonding time like a cell phone or tablet.  Kids will most certainly feel ignored and unimportant.  If you can’t be away from your phone for 20 minutes at a time, you may have an addiction.  Show the people you love that THEY are important to you.  Not some cyber friend, or game, but that person you are face to face with is worthy of your undivided attention.  I even tell the other kids that they will get their turn, but not to disturb our time alone together.  They are pretty good about respecting that.  Not always perfect with the waiting rule, but pretty good 🙂  I challenge you, for one week to spend quality time each day with all the members of your family.  Even 5 minutes a day can make a difference.   I guarantee it will change your kids attitudes, it will make them feel loved.  Do whatever it is they want to do, let them win the game, let them experiment with their own baking recipe.  You will have fun and bond your relationship for life.

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Safety first

I am a HUGE stickler for safety.  I have always tried to teach my kids to be safe when they are at and away from home.  Here are some important tips everyone should know, to help keep them safe.

At home:
I always put an emergency number list somewhere down low that they can see.  It has 911 with a green dot after it (to show you have to push the green button on the phone to make the call work).  Then it has our address under 911.  I don’t care how old you are, if there is an emergency, your address can easily slip your mind.  I then have Nathan and my numbers listed, also I have listed “Mom” or “Dad” next to the numbers to show who we are.  Then I have another set of numbers of someone that is a friend/family member that could help with their relation next to their names.  If the police have to come to the house, they can easily find those numbers as well.  We hope we never have to use it, but are thankful that it is there!

Keep your doors locked.  Most break-ins happen through open or unlocked doors, it’s so easy to flip the switch, and will keep your family safe.  Also, teaching your kids to NEVER answer the door is a must!

Away from home:

When you are walking in a store or on the street, glance around and make sure no one is following you.  Especially if you are alone.  Always make eye contact with people.

When you are with your kids, keep a close eye on your purse.  Don’t leave it in the cart, carry it on you.  Also, a purse with a zipper is far safer than one with an open top.

When leaving a store, if you feel you are being followed, turn around and go back into the store.  I know someone was following me once to my car, and I went back in the store.  They stopped for a minute, and then kept walking.  It may have been nothing, but you never know.  Which brings me to my next point:

Once you get into your car, lock your doors before doing anything else.  If you have to buckle in a child, glace around first.  If you are distracted, it is very easy for someone to come up to you without you knowing.

If you feel the need to carry a gun, get a concealed weapons permit.  Protecting yourself and your family is so important.  Don’t be foolish with your firearm and leave it in a purse or somewhere that a child could reach it.  Always keep it on you if it’s loaded.  Whether or not the safety is on, a loaded weapon can be dangerous, and needs to be out of reach of children.

I’m not trying to scare anyone, or seem as if I live in a bubble.  But always being aware of your surroundings and doing simple things to keep you and your kids safe is always a great idea.  Have a safe and happy summer!!

Encourage your kids

One thing I have learned as a parent is that every child is different.  You can parent them all the same, but they all have their own special talents and their own set of emotions.  This may be obvious, however, parents still tend to try and raise them all the same way.  What works for one child in discipline does not always work with another.  What one child finds interesting may frustrate another.  Learn to read your children and see what works best for each child, and what each child enjoys.  For example, all of my children are creative, however, one loves to write their own stories, one loves to draw and one loves to build things.  I try to encourage each of them in the areas that they love (another great part of homeschooling!).  It can make for more clutter in the house, which I do not like, but if it helps them to grow and develop their skills, I will deal with it gladly.  I have a ton of “how to draw” books, “write your own story” books, Lego building plans and an assortment of arts and crafts items.  I try not to cringe when the kids grab the expensive printer paper to use for artwork instead of their cheap dollar store construction paper, because they “need” that type of paper for whatever project they are doing 🙂 Instead, I try to go with the flow and praise their hard work.  They are all so creative and talented in their own ways.  Try to encourage your children, praise them for their creativity and help them to learn and grow.  Don’t discourage them and wish that they were more like their siblings or your idea of the perfect child.  Find something that they love and encourage them.  There is nothing a child loves more than feeling that their parents are proud of them.  As a Christian, you are modeling Christ.  When we do something that pleases the Lord, it makes us have a sense of happiness and accomplishment.  Share that feeling with your child today.  Compliment them on something, (not their looks but their talent).  Every person has something they are good at, share some encouragement today.

Psalm 32:8

 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Showing kids kindness

One thing I can’t stand more than anything is when I hear that a child has been abused.  While I was in college, the bulk of my classes were law enforcement classes, and I heard endless stories of abuse, and neglect.  Close family members have suffered abuse and neglect.  I do not understand how someone could abuse innocent children, just because they cannot control their own rage.  What in the world could this child have done to deserve this kind of punishment?  Usually the answer is . . . nothing.  Most of the abuse I hear about has nothing to do with what the child has done.  It usually stems from the adult being so overwhelmed and out of control that they just snap.  There is no justification for an adult to come so unhinged, and if they can’t control themselves, they need to remove themselves from the family and get the help they need.   While in college, I got to thinking; how can I help children that maybe are not in the best home life?  Well, one of the best ways I can think of, is to help out with the kids during Wednesday night church.  Some people see kids that act up and want attention.  I see a child that might be abused or neglected at home and is just acting out, in hunger, for attention, ANY attention, that they do not receive at home.  If you see a child that is the class clown, or withdrawn, they too may be abused.  The best gift we can give them is to be someone they can count on.  Someone that cares for them, and encourages them.  I try to compliment them and tell them how proud I am of them.  Maybe they aren’t abused, maybe they just like to goof off.  Only God knows.  I do know that giving a kind word, or a sincere smile can make anyone’s day a little brighter.  God doesn’t call me to understand or to fix their problems, but He does call me to be compassionate and loving to others.  Even those you feel may be difficult to love.  Show love to your family, give your children mercy, smile at a child that may need their spirits lifted.  You may be the only ray of hope in their life, and you may never even know it.  Proverbs 15:7 “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so”.  Are we spreading knowledge or are we wasting our speech on foolish talk?  Are we spreading kindness to others or do we look down on them for being “different”?  Try showing kindness today.  It will makes others feel better, and it will make you feel better, too.